Unlike previous recessions, women are hit the hardest by the COVID recession – here’s why

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It‘s not just in the US, worldwide, the pandemic-induced recession has had a disproportionately negative impact on women in terms of employment. Evidence from previous recessions predicts that men would have been hit the hardest by this recession, according to new research released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

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“Mothers experienced a greater decline in productivity as they engaged in work and childcare. ”

In fact, in the United States during the Great Recession “women’s employment increased compared to men,” according to the report written by five economists, three of whom are from the University of Mannheim in Germany. The other two economists are from the University of California, San Diego and Northwestern University. But in the current recession, women in 18 of the 28 advanced economies have not only lost most of their jobs, they are being rehired at a much slower rate than men. That’s based on data the researchers collected from the European Labor Force Survey, the US Current Population Survey, and the Canadian Labor Force Survey. And “in the few countries where the pandemic had a greater impact on men, the relative impact on the labor market for women is often more severe than might be expected based on previous recessions,” the researchers wrote. Previous research supports this. In states with early closure orders, mothers took one of two paths, both less than ideal: They took temporary time off from their jobs to babysit or worked longer nights and weekends while balancing housework. , according to a study published last year by US Census Bureau chief economist Misty Heggeness and principal investigator Jason Fields, they found. What makes the COVID recession different? So what’s up? For starters, past recessions like the Great Recession did not prevent children from attending schools or daycare. When children around the world were forced to learn remotely, mothers, whether employed or unemployed, spent more time helping their children learn, according to the research.

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“Industries dominated by women, such as hospitality, food and tourism, were among the most affected during the pandemic. ”

They found that this has limited women’s ability to work more than men. In fact, among American women with children, the drop in employment was five percentage points higher than that of men two months after the recession. In addition to this, female-dominated industries, such as hospitality, food and tourism, were among the most affected during the pandemic, resulting in the highest proportion of layoffs and licenses. Another notable finding is the central role of telecommuting. Much of the “gender gaps in the impact of the pandemic on employment arise almost entirely among workers who are unable to work from home,” the researchers wrote. It turns out that a higher proportion of men in the 28 countries the researchers analyzed have jobs that can be done remotely compared to women.

“A higher proportion of men in the 28 countries the researchers analyzed have jobs that can be done remotely compared to women. ”

But even if a woman with children could work from home, the research suggests that “mothers experienced a greater decline in productivity at the same time as they were engaged in work and childcare.” In fact, about half of parents (52%) with children under the age of 12 said it has been challenging to manage childcare responsibilities during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Pew Research Center survey published in January. Ultimately, the fall in female employment is significant, especially if it persists, because it reduces the financial safety net that families have in the face of future economic crises. That said, the researchers are optimistic that the pandemic could “trigger post-pandemic workplace changes that open up the potential for greatly reduced gender inequality in the labor market.” “But for this potential to be realized, changes in the workplace are not enough,” they said, referring to the permanent flexibility of working from home. “There must also be a change in social norms and expectations that lead mothers and fathers to make more equitable use of the additional flexibility that the new workplace offers.”